What food can guinea pigs eat? Knowing what food your guinea pig can eat is something worth finding out early on. People generally underestimate the amount of foods guinea pigs can eat. There is also often confusion between their diets and rabbits.
A guinea pig eats three times a day and that doesn’t include hay, grass and treats! Read on to learn all about what food can guinea pigs eat.
Guinea pigs adore hay! They would spend all day eating it if they could and the good news is they can! Hay is the main part of your little piggy’s diet. Up to 80% of it in fact. Best of all is that hay is really good for them. It aids their digestive system, plus it wears down their ever-growing teeth!
The best type of hay for eating is grass hay, more specifically Timothy hay. It can work out rather expensive though. Especially since guinea pigs also like to lie, sleep, nap and play in the hay. With all this fun going on, hay can get dirty, soiled and smelly quickly.
Guinea pigs refuse to eat soiled hay so it adds an extra complication since they need so much of it to be healthy. Any easy and cost-effective way is to provide cheaper hay as bedding. The more expensive Timothy hay can be placed in hay racks and containers for eating.
Never be tempted to give your guinea pig straw. It’s too sharp and can actually poke their little eyes out.
Guinea pigs can eat unlimited amounts of hay and require constant access to clean, fresh hay.
Grass can also be fed in unlimited supply. A guinea pigs digestive system is designed to eat foliage. Grass is actually a great source of nutrients for them. Plus they love it!
Outdoor guinea pigs will have constant access to grass. Ensure their run is moved around to allow them fresh grass. Also, check the area for any weeds or flowers growing that could be poisonous to your guinea pig.
For indoor guinea pigs, its a little trickier to give them fresh grass. My current guinea pigs are indoor guinea pigs. I allow a portion of grass to grow wild and just chop some off daily with scissors for them. I won’t feed them wet grass as it’s bad for their tummies so they get extra hay on these days.
Never be tempted to give them lawnmower clippers. Although they may look normal, all lawn mowers mulch the grass after cutting. This is fatal to a guinea pig. If you are picking wild grass, ensure it is free from animal urine. The scent can upset your guinea pigs and make them feel unsafe.
All guinea pigs require dried guinea pig pellets (sometimes called nuggets) Don’t be tempted to buy brightly coloured ones. These are often full of harmful chemicals. Dried pellets make up to 10% of your guinea pigs diet. Interestingly, guinea pigs can not make their own vitamin C and so they need to obtain it from food sources.
Pellets are often enriched with lots of vitamins and minerals, perfect for keeping your guinea pig healthy.
The last 10% of your guinea pigs diet comes from vegetables. These also provide essential vitamins and minerals. Plus they are great for wearing their teeth down. Ensure you are feeding a different combination of vegetables each day so they don’t get bored.
Guinea pigs love food but eating the same thing day after day can get them down. The recommended amount is between three and five different types of vegetables per day. Your guinea pig will let you know what they like and dont like.
Be sure to serve their vegetables in a sturdy, non-tip bowl to avoid your piggies getting their food dirty.
Vegetables guinea pigs can eat every day
- Peppers any colour
- Green Beans
- Gem Lettuce
A few times a week
- Collard Greens
Never feed these vegetables to your guinea pig
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Potatoes (including peel)
Guinea pigs love sweet things! They are rather like us with this respect as too much sugar can be very bad for them. Fruit can make an excellent treat but should not be fed daily.
Fruit has a very high sugar content compared to vegetables. Unfortunately, guinea pigs who have too much sugar suffer from obesity. Ensure you only feed your guinea pig safe fruits. Some fruits have high levels of acidity which can cause sores inside your guinea pigs mouth.
Safe fruit list for guinea pigs
- Kiwi Fruit
Remember these are a treat and shouldn’t be fed to your guinea pig on a daily basis.
Herbs are a great way to keep your guinea pig interested in mealtimes, plus they are filled with nutrients. They also provide much needed Vitamin C and fibre.
Herbs guinea pigs can eat
- Cilantro / Italian Parsley / Coriander
Herbs guinea pigs can not eat
Treating your guinea pig to some store bought treats is perfectly natural. Treats are great to offer your guinea pig during lap time, grooming and claw clipping. Not all treats advertised for guinea pigs are safe however.
Stay away from brightly coloured or corn-based treats. Ensure there are no harmful ingredients such as nuts and seeds. We have put our top picks for store-bought guinea pig treats below:
The best treats to buy for your guinea pig
Variety is the spice of life
Remember that every guinea pig is different so yours may not like all the ones listed here. Each guinea pig has its own favourite foods. Our guinea pigs have very different tastes: Chocolate will eat anything and is always eager to try something new! Orange is cautious about everything! She even rumble strutts when she spots her hay racks have been topped up!
Introduce new foods to your guinea pigs slowly and remember to be patient. Guinea pigs are very wary and it may take a while to get them used to the new food before you find out if they even like it. See our feeding section for more information on what food guinea pigs can eat.
We have created this at a glance free printable to help you know what to feed your guinea pigs:
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